Earth Voices - George’s Story

By Ella Trudgeon, Digital Content Creator and Illustrator 

George Tsitati is a climate change activist from Kenya with a vision of global cooperation.  

He tells digital content creator Ella Trudgeon how climate change is hurting his community, and the role of science in challenging injustice.  

 




Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022 

This is George. His family live in Kenya, in the remote town of Narok, west of Nairobi, where orange sunsets fade into yellow grasslands. The horizon of his homeland is decorated with the curling branches of baobab trees. They feed giraffes and resting migratory birds, and cast deep shadows across the savannah. Rivers snake their way to the shore, carrying life to the land. 

George remembers the joys that rainfall would bring to his community. He says that 70% of rural Kenyans are dependent on agriculture. For them, the rain promises security and health. It  nourishes the crops and replenishes the land that has been baked by the sun.  

He remembers playing with his friends in the muddy waters, their laughter soft against the beat of the rain, with the smell of soil in the air.  

One day, the river dried up. Where water once flowed from the mountains, the ground was cracked and dry. George’s community came together. What had happened? Something was not right. George was a child and didn’t have the answers, “I didn’t know about climate change”.  

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022

Now, aged 25 and studying his masters in Climate Change Science & Policy at University of Bristol, George knows that the river didn’t simply dry up. 

Instead, the drought was one of many human-caused environmental changes hurting his home and people.  

He has learned that global temperatures must remain below a 1.5 °C rise above pre-industrial levels for the survival of humanity. Climate change isn’t a distant concept facing future generations, it is felt by people now. 

Today, in 2022, an estimated 2.1 million people in Kenya are facing drought-related starvation - The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), 2022

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022

Climate literacy  

We also don't contribute to climate change equally, with the richest countries that dominate international trade, also being the leading polluters.  

George explains that the people most affected by land policy and environmental changes, such as farmers like his mum, are not involved in the decision-making.  

He says, “vulnerability depends on where you are”. Those who are geographically exposed, socioeconomically vulnerable, and dependent on climate-sensitive industries, are least resilient against drought, flooding, storms, heatwaves, fires, and more.  

Climate change displaces people. Without technology and wealth, countries and communities are unable to adapt to climate change. This is why George believes the key to climate justice is collaboration and education. 

He says that climate literacy, the understanding of the science of climate change, empowers all communities and countries to make changes that protect people and our planet.  

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022

Global food security 

The industrial agricultural industry is a leading contributor to climate change in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land use. Changes to our climate and environment, such as soil degradation from unsustainable farming practices, threaten global food security. 

George speaks of the soil. The soil beneath us is the foundation that our societies grow from: when the soil is healthy, life above ground is rooted, resilient, and able to thrive.  

Climate-smart agriculture is an approach to farming that integrates science. In Kenya, George founded the Ash-Glade Tsitati Foundation, which brings climate-smart agriculture to farming communities through mentoring, training, and educational schemes. 

By recognising the link between food systems and climate change, sustainable and fair farming practices can ensure global food security. With climate literacy, collaboration, and involvement in land decision-making, farmers play an essential role in safeguarding our shared soil and protecting our food systems. 

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022

Looking after our home for future generations  

“Understanding indigenous groups is key to understanding climate change.” 

Raised in the Maasai community, Kenya’s indigenous tribe, George belongs to a group that lives closely with the land and animals. This way of life has taught him how custodianship of community and nature is relevant to the wider conversation on climate change.  

“The elders are our tutors that guide and support us. Every elder is a parent to every child in the community, and that has taught me the power of coming together and sharing responsibility.” 

Collectivism, the principle of considering all people in the community, is embedded in indigenous cultures like George’s Maasai tribe. It involves looking after our home for future generations who have not yet been born.  

“I feel proud to be in a community that made me realise that my people are suffering,” George says, “and now we need transformative and innovative solutions”.   

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022

Looking forward – Sustainable Development Goals 

His vision is a world that has attained the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, such as Climate Action, Gender Equality, No Poverty, and Quality Education. He advocates for sustainable development because he has seen, first-hand, the interconnection of social inequalities that must be uprooted to tackle climate change.  

Farming communities need access to climate education, sustainable technology, and financial support to implement climate-smart agriculture. As industries adapt, a forward-thinking, inclusive transition can support people whose livelihoods are currently entangled with unsustainable practices. When everyone is considered, we can lead the transformation together. 

The richest countries, collectively called the ‘Global North’, have a responsibility to act on the promises made to the poorest countries, the ‘Global South’. George believes that political leaders must cooperate with integrity to support the Global South to adapt and thrive.  

To create and implement a truly inclusive policy that mitigates global climate change, governments must collaborate with indigenous peoples and scientists who, together, understand the intricacies of the environment.  

What can we do right now? 

George says we can support intermediates like himself who understand both the Global South and Global North. They navigate the cultural, technological, economical, and ecological differences in ways that are crucial for global collaboration. By amplifying the voices of people who are building bridges, we can strengthen global connection which is essential for our shared survival.  

 

This content was produced by our Digital Content Creator, Ella Trudgeon, as part of a placement funded by the West of England Combined Authority Creative Business Grant.  

About Ella Trudgeon:  
Ella is a multi-disciplinary Bristol-based creative, who makes work about climate and social justice. She is passionate about reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through powerful, inclusive narratives that inspire collaborative action.   

Huge thanks to George for sharing his story. Big thanks also to Creative Tuition for their mentorship and support. 

 

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